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Breech births

Breech births are births in which your baby is born in the breech or bottom-down position, that means her bottom or feet will come out first instead of her head.

About 25% of all babies will be in the breech position when their mother is 32 weeks pregnant, by week 40 of pregnancy only 3% will not have yet reached the vertex or head-first position for birth.

There are 4 possible breech positions:

  • Frank breech. The most common breech position in which your baby’s bottom comes out first and her legs are bent at the hips and stuck straight out, much like a diver.
  • Complete breech. Your baby’s bottom comes out first and her legs are crossed.
  • Footling breech. Your baby comes out feet first, bottom second.
  • Kneeling breech. This position is very rare and occurs when your baby is kneeling down in your womb.

Breech births are most common in premature deliveries, multiple births, pregnancies which involve an abnormal level of amniotic fluid and women with placenta praevia, uterine shape anomalies, contracted pelvises and other children delivered via C-section. However, these factors do not mean that you will have a breech birth, just that your chances of doing so increases.

Risks associated with breech births include: umbilical cord prolapse, head entrapment and prolonged compression of the umbilical cord, all of which can lead to neurological damage if not dealt with appropriately. However, these risks are usually easily avoided via C-section delivery.

There is some controversy in the world of medical professionals regarding whether a C-section should be scheduled for all breech births, so talk to your physician to find out how they plan to deal with a possible breech birth. Once you deliver at term, natural birth should remain a possibility as by week 40 of pregnancy your baby’s bottom will be similar, if not equal, in diameter to her head.

If you would like to try to turn your baby into the vertex position some methods of possibly doing so include: an external cephalic version (ECV), moxibustion or hypnosis.

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